An optical pulsar is a pulsar which can be detected in the visible spectrum. There are very few of these known: the Crab pulsar was detected by stroboscopic techniques in 1969[1][2], shortly after its discovery in radio waves, at the Steward Observatory. The Vela pulsar was detected in 1977 at the Anglo-Australian Observatory, and was the faintest star ever imaged at that time.

Six known optical pulsars are listed by Shearer and Golden (2002):
Name of pulsar Magnitude
Crab Pulsar (CM Tauri, PSR B0531+21) 16.5
Vela Pulsar 24
PSR B0540-69 (in the Large Magellanic Cloud) 23
PSR B0656+14 26
PSR B0633+17 (Geminga) 25.5
PSR B1509-58 (*) 25.7
*Source included but not discussed in paper by source paper.


COCKE, W. J.; DISNEY, M. J.; TAYLOR, D. J. (February 1969). "Discovery of Optical Signals from Pulsar NP 0532". Nature. 221 (5180): 525–527. Bibcode:1969Natur.221..525C. doi:10.1038/221525a0. S2CID 4296580.
NATHER, R. E.; WARNER, B.; MACFARLANE, M. (February 1969). "Optical Pulsations in the Crab Nebula Pulsar". Nature. 221 (5180): 527–529. Bibcode:1969Natur.221..527N. doi:10.1038/221527a0. S2CID 4295264.

Proceedings of the 270. WE-Heraeus Seminar on Neutron Stars, Pulsars, and Supernova Remnants. MPE Report 278.; "Why study pulsars optically?"; Shearer, A. & Golden, A.; 2002; Bibcode:2002nsps.conf...44S

External links

"A Pulsar Discovery: First Optical Pulsar." Moments of Discovery, American Institute of Physics, 2007 (Includes audio and teachers guides).


Neutron star

Radio-quiet Pulsar

Single pulsars

Soft gamma repeater Anomalous X-ray Rotating radio transient

Binary pulsars

Binary X-ray pulsar
X-ray binary X-ray burster List Millisecond Be/X-ray Spin-up


Fast radio burst Bondi accretion Chandrasekhar limit Gamma-ray burst Glitch Neutronium Neutron-star oscillation Optical Pulsar kick Quasi-periodic oscillation Relativistic Rp-process Starquake Timing noise Tolman–Oppenheimer–Volkoff limit Urca process


Gamma-ray burst progenitors Asteroseismology Compact star
Quark star Exotic star Supernova
Supernova remnant Related links Hypernova Kilonova Neutron star merger Quark-nova White dwarf
Related links Stellar black hole
Related links Radio star Pulsar planet Pulsar wind nebula Thorne–Żytkow object


LGM-1 Centaurus X-3 Timeline of white dwarfs, neutron stars, and supernovae


Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope Compton Gamma Ray Observatory Chandra X-ray Observatory


X-ray pulsar-based navigation Tempo software program Astropulse The Magnificent Seven

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